2 min read

Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.

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One of the challenges of making software videos is having an environment that is always ready for the next video. Whether you record them yourself, hire a third-party to record them for you, or use Videate to automatically generate your videos from documentation, you need a plan to get the “state” of the video recording environment prepared for the next video. Like the seven principles of “Leave-no-trace” camping, here are five principles you should follow to ensure your software videos are beautiful and not cluttered with redundant data or broken by prior recordings. 

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Record in a Durable Environment
  3. Dispose of Your Session Data Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Be Considerate of Others

Planning ahead and being prepared is not difficult. It requires thinking about recording software videos a little differently if you want an automated process rather than re-recording them manually with every release. If you think of recording software videos similar to technical documentation, instructional design, or quality assurance standards, you can prepare by creating a few simple guidelines. Planning ahead and preparing will result in sustainability and scalability.

Recording in a durable environment means you should have access to your own software environment in which you can record videos. With most modern SaaS applications it should be easy to provision a new tenant or account. Some clients share accounts with product documentation or customer education. The key is to have an always available environment to allow you to make recordings whenever needed. And to be able to update the environment with new software as soon as a release is available (or sooner if you have access prior to final release).

By disposing of your session data properly we mean that if you add data or change settings make sure you “undo” what you did when you are done. The best way is to do this is to preserve the baseline data and configuration settings so you can restore the recording environment when necessary. With some videos, you can dispose of your session data after each recording. With others, you are recording a sequence of videos (very common with labs for example, where exercise 5 depends on what you did in exercise 4) and the then-current state of the prior video is needed for the next video.

Leave what you find. This can be as simple as deleting the data that you created and never deleting data that was already there. Often when subject matter experts record videos for you they have their own environments and do this instinctively either when they are done or before they make new videos again. We noticed an example recently where every time a video was made a new “Test User” was added to the database. And when you looked at the application there were dozens of “Test Users'' that cluttered screens. This doesn’t make for a quality user experience. Please clean up your trash (i.e. the data you changed) when you are done recording videos.

Be considerate of others. The demo environment is not yours alone. With Videate, the scripts that drive your videos come from technical documentation, customer education, knowledge base articles, or other sources. These are written with the assumption that the environment will be clean and remain so. If we are updating screenshots for you in addition to making videos, you want the screenshots in your documentation or web portal to look professional. Follow the leave-no-trace guidelines. Take nothing but videos. Leave everything as it was.

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